Reading books on physiology and training will tell you exactly why you should use specific angles to hit specific portions of any given muscle group. This is a fantastic way to learn your way around your body and hopefully accelerate your development through intelligent training. However to take your OWN physique to the next level you also need to understand that everybody’s biomechanics are different, therefore you also need to apply a degree of variation where necessary. Read on and learn how to.
As you perform any exercise the first thing you need to ask yourself is if you feel the TARGET muscles working? Here is a prime example. Single arm dumbbell rows are a very well used back exercises yet a lot of people perform them in a way which hits their upper traps, not the latts. Even if your form is ‘’text book’’ if the target muscles are not working (you can feel this to an extent) then it is worth trying slightly different angles with the same movement. As long as you use safe form where you are not making any parts of your body vulnerable there is no harm is trying this.
Whilst you might think looking in the mirror as you workout is a little arrogant, it serves a very good purpose. Whenever possible I will use a mirror as feedback, are the target muscles working or not? It is quite normal to SEE the muscle fibres work as you contract against a resistance; if they are not then again it might be worth tweaking the angles or tempo for example.
Dreaded DOMS, or ‘’delayed onset muscle soreness’’ is a pain in the . . . . . well whatever muscle you trained within the last 24-72 hours. However you should take DOMS as a great sign as to whether or not your workouts are hitting the spot – if your target muscles are not feeling sore maybe your exercise selection does not suit you. If for example I do regular flat bench pressing I will generally have great DOMS in my triceps and anterior deltoids. If however I use a decline bench my chest feels as brittle as a greenhouse during a stone shower!! This isn’t to say the same will work for you, the point is recognising that different angles will work for different people is key to finding what works for YOU.
To recap if an exercise makes the target muscle burn under contraction (especially isometric contraction), fatigue (opposed to supporting muscles) and get a pump then the chances are it is working for you.